Barth on Theological Epistemology

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“But Christian theology can and must differ from a general philosophy of God and the world in the fact that to Christian theology the factor upon which everything depends, the activity of God which becomes event, is not an unknown but a known factor, and known in such a way that demands a knowledge and an acknowledgment of the How? If Christian theology sticks to its own last, not launching out into problems for whose origin it cannot accept responsibility, it will concern itself with seeing and hearing the work of the true God which precedes any consideration of cosmic occurrence as such. It has to do with the God who foreordains all cosmic occurrence, who joins Himself to it only that He may determine it with full sovereignty, who is not accessible to any human conceptuality, but who has made Himself known, and in doing so can now be known and recognised. As its very name suggests, Christian theology has to do with Jesus Christ, with the history of the covenant of grace as it leads up to Him as has its source in Him, and therefore with the almighty operation of God governing all cosmic occurrence as it is revealed at this point. It does not first consider the creature and its activity in general, then work out a concept of the supreme being, then confer upon this being the name of God, and then conclude there may perhaps be an activity of God in and above the activity of the creature. On the contrary, it first knows the activity of God in a particular cosmic action in which God makes Himself known. It perceives that the One who acts at this point and in this way is the supreme being. And in the light of that perception it sees that God is at work in and over the activity of creation as a whole (CD, III/3, 141-2).

I’m getting excited to tackle §50 entitled God and Nothingness where Barth discusses evil. I plan to get to it this weekend and hopefully offer some commentary in light of Catherine Keller’s discussion of Barth and nothingness in her great work Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming.

(Also quick housekeeping note. I’ve added a new category Church Dogmatics Project 2010 so my readers can follow along with me on my reading of Barth’s Church Dogmatics)

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